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Tumbling toward Two Thousand

Abstract

Our story starts with Voltaire, who lived and wrote in the midst of scientific progress, intellectual optimism, and the increasing momentum of economic production.1 The century of the Enlightenment would end with the French Revolution, Napoleon’s fanatical wars, increasingly strong economic ties among European states, and the advent of the bourgeoisie. Voltaire, it can be said, was a transitional figure in the Enlightenment. Though ever hopeful about the future, he was also earnestly ironic about his Utopian and excessively optimistic and good-natured Enlightenment comrades.

Keywords

Eighteenth Century Social Theory Social Contract French Revolution Enlightenment Project 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Voltaire was born in 1694 and died in 1778, about a decade before the beginning of the French Revolution.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Letter of November 30, 1735, to Abbe d’Olivet. Quoted in John U. Nef, Western Civilization since the Renaissance. New York: Harper [1950] 1963, p. 277.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 2.Google Scholar
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    Alfred Cobban, In Search of Humanity: The Role of the Enlightenment in Modern History. New York: George Braziller, 1960.Google Scholar
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    See James S. Coleman, Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990, especially pp. 21–23.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1993

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